In the Shadow of Ruin by Tony Debajo – Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #8: Round One 5th Place Semi-Finalist

After much deliberation we have come to our picks for our 8th Annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Round One semi-finalists! Today we are announcing our 5th place semi-finalist, out of our 30 original books!

You can see the list of finalists and their scores here. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can learn more about the contest here.

Now here is our fifth place semi-finalist!

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In the Shadow of Ruin by Tony Debajo

In The Shadow of Ruin (cover)King Jide Adelani has ruled the lands of the Yoruba in West Africa for many peaceful years, but now his kingdom is in turmoil and the cold grasp of death’s embrace is closing in around everything he holds dear.

Jide spent years garnering the respect and loyalty of the tribes in the hopes of uniting them into one cohesive empire when his half-brother, Prince Olise, returns from banishment to claim the throne as his own.

The offspring of a union between the late King Adeosi and the evil enchantress Ekaete, the bitter Olise has devoted the last decade to one purpose; to seize the throne and rule the kingdom. If he fails, he risks his name being erased from the history of the tribes.

With the support of his mother, a powerful witch whose name is whispered in fear across the lands of the tribes, the outcast Olise now seems unstoppable in achieving his goal.

Facing overwhelming military might and dark forces he cannot comprehend, Jide must either choose to ignore the warnings of the gods, and seek help from those who also practice dark arts; or risk losing his kingdom.

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“How did it come to this? How was it that despite Jide’s ambitions to unite the tribes and create a nation that would rival any known to history, all had unraveled like a thread pulled from a cloth until the pattern in the fabric was lost, undistinguishable and eventually reduced to a pile of loose string in the dust.”

In the Shadow of Ruin was a fascinating read. The Nigeria inspired fantasy, had a whole dynamic and style that was just different from most Western inspired books. As one of our judge’s said, “[it] scratched the same itch for different cultures and a fresh point of view as Rage of Dragons [by Evan Winter]”. However, some judges wish there was even more Nigerian culture included, as on occasion it sometimes seemed like the story could have taken place anywhere. Another judge said, “I intend to continue this series and I would love to feel more that I was in the depth of Nigeria itself (even as the ignorant tourist) and seeing it in all its reality”. But all our judges agreed it was great to read something coming from a different perspective.

Not only did it provide something different from the typical fantasy fare, but the prose fit the story perfectly and our judges were immediately drawn in. Once we were hooked our judges loved the characters. That being said, this story is very complex and has a lot of characters, places, politics, and flashbacks. Some of our judges (especially the ones that read via audiobook) got things a bit confused at times. There is a map and an extensive glossary included, but for those that like all their information on the page to keep them immersed, it was a lot to keep track of.

Also, unlike some of our other reads this year, this was a rather bloody book with plenty of death, war, murders, betrayals, assassination attempts, and a war of good against evil. Definitely not recommended for the faint of heart, but perfect for any grimdark fans looking for something fresh. Some of our judges, like this sort of flavor in their books, and others, not so much.

In the Shadow of Ruin also has a lower magic setting as compared to many fantasies, with the black magic, or juju, being used to cause much of the destruction. Though as the characters explore places further afield in later books this might change. And our judges are excited to see the direction the author heads as they run into different cultures.

Overall, this was a fantastic entry, and we would encourage anyone who wants a grimdark tale set in a non-European based world to check this out immediately!

But there can only be one, so today we say goodbye to In the Shadow of Ruin and Tony Debajo. Congratulations on being our 5th place Semi-Finalist and for writing such an amazing story!

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We would like to thank all the authors for letting us read their work! We congratulate you on having the courage to enter the contest and wish you all much success in the future!

Tomorrow (Oct 26) we will review our fourth place winner, Thursday (Oct 27) will be the third place winner, and Friday (Oct 28) we will announce our second place winner and our first place finalist for Round One! But regardless of the outcome, all these books are well worth the read and we highly encourage you all to check them out!

And again, you can see the list of finalists and their scores here. Our judges this year are Julia Kitvaria Sarene, Kartik Narayanan, Kerry Smith, Max Freeman, and Jennie Ivins (me). If you’d like to learn more about us, including our likes and dislikes, you can read about them here.

Any queries should be directed at me, Jennie Ivins, via DM (Facebook/Twitter).

Title image background by PublicDomainPictures.


By Jennie Ivins

Jennie is the Editor of Fantasy-Faction. She lives with her math loving husband and their three autistic boys (one set of twins & one singleton). In-between her online life and being a stay-at-home mom, she is writing her first fantasy series. She also enjoys photography, art, cooking, computers, science, history, and anything else shiny that happens across her field of vision. You can find her on Twitter @autumn2may.

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